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Lawmakers want to ban use of Google Glass while driving

Lawmakers are seeking to ban the use of Google Glass while driving, citing safety concerns, especially among inexperienced drivers.
March 24, 2013
"I took the train because they said no using Google Glass while driving."
I took the train because they said no using Google Glass while driving. (Photo credit: Noah Zerkin)

There’s a long list of things you shouldn’t do while driving, and in many jurisdictions, these are spelled out by the law. These include driving under the influence of alcohol, calling on a mobile phone, and also texting. The key point here is that distracted driving is dangerous, and whatever is keeping you from concentrating is dangerous, too.

In West Virginia, lawmakers are seeking to ban the use of Google Glass while driving. The proposed law does not necessarily single out Google’s device, though, as it seeks to ban “using a wearable computer with head mounted display,” in general. But it seems the rising popularity of Google Glass has prompted this move, says Cnet wrier Chris Matyszczyk.

Congressman Gary G. Howell wrote Matyszczyk that the bill was intended to target mostly young users, who are likely to be early adopters of technology, and who are also likely to be inexperienced drivers. “It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension.”

The ambivalence toward Google Glass is not new. Recently, we featured a few pieces citing arguments against Google Glass. For instance, shop owners have started banning Google Glass on their private premises, due to privacy concerns. A London-based advocacy “Stop the Cyborgs” is also urging people to think twice before using Google Glass. After all, it’s the unmonitored and clandestine recording capabilities that are potential privacy risks, whether in public or in a private setting.

But the ban on using Glass while driving might have its merits. Distracted driving accounts for more than 3,000 deaths per year in the U.S., and about 400,000 injuries. Studies have argued that using handsfree headsets might not be too helpful in reducing the risk. After all, it’s not just the use of hands that is risky, but rather being distracted in itself.

There’s no knowing whether someone driving with Google Glass is texting, watching a video or simply using Glass to help navigate or check traffic. It may not be enough to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Your focus should also be on the road.

Of course, we may argue that Google is developing self-driving cars after all, and we might not have to give 100% concentration and driver input. But we’re still a long way to go from self-driving cars being mainstream.

Are you for, or against, the ban on Google Glass while driving?